INDIA’S TAX REGULATOR “CLARIFIES” INDIRECT TRANSFER PROVISIONS IN CASE OF REDEMPTION OF SHARES OUTSIDE INDIA
Under the provisions of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (the “ IT Act”), the income of a non-resident will be deemed to accrue or arise in India if it arises, directly or indirectly, through or from any business connection, property, asset or source of income, or from a transfer of a capital asset (shares or other interest) situated in India. The indirect transfer provision was introduced in the Finance Act, 2012, by way of Explanation 5 to Section 9(1)(i) of the IT Act, clarifying that an offshore capital asset will be treated as situated in India if it substantially derives its value (directly or indirectly) from assets located in India.
NTT DOCOMO FINDS ITSELF IN A TAX BIND
On March 25, 2009, NTT DoCoMo Inc., a company incorporated in Japan (“ NTT”), entered into a shareholders’ agreement with Tata Teleservices Ltd. (“TTL”). Under the terms of the agreement, it was agreed that if TTL failed to satisfy certain “key performance indicators” within a period of five (5) years, then TTL would be required to find a buyer to purchase NTT’s shares (26%) of TTL at the sale price that was higher of: (a) the fair value of those shares as of March 31, 2014; or (b) 50% of the price at which NTT purchased those shares. In July 2014, when TTL could not fulfill the performance indicators and, thereafter, could not find a buyer to purchase NTT’s shares, NTT requested TTL to buy the shares at the price of INR58.04 per share.
BRIGHTLINE TESTS TO DETERMINE CHANGE OF “CONTROL” FOR TAKEOVERS A NO GO
In India, under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 2011 (the “ Takeover Regulations”), there exists a mandatory tender offer regime for acquisition of listed companies. Under this regime, both, the acquisition of a substantial shareholding stake (25%) and the acquisition of “control” are treated equally, and require the acquirer to make an open offer to the public shareholders. Currently, under the Takeover Regulations, the test to determine what constitutes change of “control” is principle-based. Keeping in sync with global norms, in early 2016, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (the “SEBI”) released a discussion paper (the “ Paper”) to explore bright-line tests to determine what constitutes as change of “control.”
INDIA – SECURITIES LAW UPDATE
Recently, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (the “ SEBI”) has approved and notified several important changes to Indian securities regulations, including, extending relaxations from open offer and preferential issue requirements to new investors acquiring shares of distressed companies, extending relaxations from open offer requirements to acquisitions made pursuant to resolution plans approved by the National Company Law Tribunal (the “NCLT”) and exemptions from lock-in requirements at the time of initial public offer (“IPO”) to Category II Alternative Investment Funds (“ AIFs”) such as private equity funds and debt funds.
INDIA – INSOLVENCY LAW UPDATE – SUPREME COURT ORDER MAY PAVE THE WAY FOR OUT-OF-COURT SETTLEMENTS
The Indian government enacted the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (the “ Code”) to consolidate the law on insolvency in India, and provide an effective and timebound mechanism for recovering debts due to both, financial as well as operational creditors. The provisions of the Code are being tested in Indian courts, and an important ruling has been passed by India’s Supreme Court (the “Court”) on out-of-court settlements between parties following the commencement of insolvency proceedings.
INDIA – INSOLVENCY LAW UPDATE – ACTION AGAINST ESSAR STEEL UPHELD
With the aim of having a robust and efficient insolvency process and to remedy the appalling credit default situation in India, the Indian government enacted the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (the “ Code”). The Code introduced sweeping reforms by consolidating the law on insolvency in India, and providing an effective and time bound mechanism for recovering debts due to both, financial as well as operational creditors.
“DOMINANT” WHATSAPP NOT INDULGING IN PREDATORY PRICING IN INDIA
In 2009, the Indian government implemented the provisions for prohibition of anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant position in India under the Competition Act, 2002 (the “Act”). More recently, antitrust litigation has picked up in India as the general public is becoming aware of various issues such as price fixing, cartel formation, tying arrangements and predatory pricing.
FURTHER EXEMPTIONS ON LONG TERM CAPITAL GAINS IN INDIA
Under the existing provisions of section 10(38) of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (the “IT Act”), income arising from the transfer of a long term capital asset, being equity shares of a listed company or units of an equity oriented fund, is exempt from capital gains tax if the sale transaction is chargeable to Securities Transaction Tax (“ STT”) under Chapter VII of the Finance (No.2) Act, 2004 (the “Tax Exemption”)
INDIA – CROSS-BORDER MERGER PROVISIONS NOTIFIED
The erstwhile Companies Act, 1956 (the “1956 Act”) contained provisions for the merger of a foreign company with an Indian company but not vice versa. The Companies Act, 2013 (the “ 2013 Act”) made a significant change and introduced enabling provisions for merging an Indian company into a foreign company. The provisions relating to both inbound and outbound mergers along with the corresponding amendments to the Companies (Compromises, Arrangements and Amalgamations) Rules, 2016, have been notified on April 13, 2017.
THE TARGET TEST EXEMPTION UNDER INDIA’S MERGER CONTROL REGIME TWEAKED
The Competition Act, 2002 read with the Competition Commission of India (Procedure in Regard to the Transaction of Business relating to Combinations) Regulations, 2011, deal with the merger control regime in India. On March 27, 2017, the Indian government issued a notification (the “ Notification”) changing the target test exemption.